Jamie Oliver’s warm arugula salad is easy-peasy and “scrummy”, as the man himself says. Warmed and caramelized red onions, pine nuts, and bacon warm the arugula just enough. It’s easy. And spectacular.
This recipe is written in Jamie Oliver speak. That is, this salad is all about personalization and improvisation. The amounts are intentionally left a little loosey-goosey so you can tweak it to your palate and not get mired down in tedious measuring. That said, we’ve included some approximates for those who prefer pointed direction. The amounts can easily be scaled up or down depending on how many servings you desire—including, of course, just one. You can play fast and loose with the ingredients, too, as the seasons change. Go on. Embrace your inner Naked Chef.–Jamie Oliver
HOW FAR AHEAD CAN I MAKE A WARM ARUGULA SALAD?
Well…aside from chopping veg and getting your mise-en-place, you can’t. Let Jamie Oliver expain it. “Warm salads can be blooming amazing or complete disasters. First, you have to get your hungry guests around the table before you plate up, so as soon as their bums are on the chairs, you’re tossing the warm ingredients in with the arugula leaves. Boom, boom, boom on a plate and it’s in front of them”. It’s true. Leave it too long and everything wilts and cools. The point of a warm salad is to let the different textures and temperatures play off each other in an extrordinary way.
☞ Table of Contents
Warm Arugula Salad
- Peel, halve, and quarter each onion, then cut each quarter in half. This should give you 8 wedges per onion.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and fry the pancetta or bacon until crisp. Move to a plate. Add 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil to drippings in the skillet. Add the thyme leaves, onions, and pinenuts along with a pinch of salt and toss around gently. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and sweet (but not black!).
- Return the pancetta or bacon to the skillet and toss to coat. Then throw everything into a salad bowl on top of the arugula or any nice salad leaves. Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar—this will make a natural dressing as it mixes with the olive oil. Have everyone already sitting at the table by the time you shave some Parmesan over the top—you can use a vegetable peeler to do this.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This salad was easy to prepare and assemble. Rather than making this dish for four people, I made it for one (me). Though the measurements aren’t exact, I liked the improvisation because I could scale down the recipe. For the bacon/pancetta preparation, I wasn’t sure what to do with the leftover grease, so rather than tossing it, I just poured less olive oil into the pan for the onion, thyme, and pine nuts.
This recipe is easy to play fast and loose with in your kitchen. The amounts come down to how much you want of the ingredients involved. With all kinds of textures and flavour combinations, this salad is bound to please almost everyone. Remove the thyme leaves from their stems before you toss them into the pan, so you won’t have to pull sticks off of the plate later.
I used two handfuls of arugula, and two handfuls of leafy mixed greens. Be sure to have your guests seated before you serve because the warm ingredients will cause the salad greens to wilt very quickly. Instead of tossing the salad, I used tongs to serve folks right out of the bowl.
Originally published April 29, 2010